Help build ‘herd immunity’ with flu shot
It’s flu season, so if you want adequate protection from getting sick, you might want to consider rolling up your sleeve.
U of M pharmacist Meera Thadani says that even if you got a flu shot last year, you may need another this year too.
“Because flu viruses evolve quickly, last year’s vaccine may not protect you from the viruses that are prevalent this year. New flu vaccines are formulated each year to stimulate the immune system to protect you from the viruses which will be most common this year,” she says.
Thadani notes, though, that if you’re already feeling sick, you may need to wait a week or two.
“You should not get the flu shot if you are not well or have the flu. Your immune system is already working hard to fight the virus causing the illness. It may take you longer to recover from your illness and your body may not respond as well as it should to the flu shot,” says Thadani.
One important reason everyone on campus should get a flu shot is because of something called, appropriately enough for the U of M bison mascot, “herd immunity.”
“Herd immunity occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity,” explains Thadani.
“When a high percentage of the population is protected by vaccination against a virus or bacteria, it makes it difficult for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible people left to infect. Preventing the spread of disease in the community is especially important to protect people in the community who are too young to be vaccinated or those who are too sick to be vaccinated.”
For example, if 95 out of 100 bison in a herd are vaccinated, it is unlikely for them to spread the disease to five susceptible bison. The remaining five bison could be babies, young bison or a much older bison. Immunizing the herd offers a measure of protection to those who have not developed immunity.
The flu shot is free to everyone. There are flu clinics at the Fort Garry Campus Pharmacy in University Centre between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm on Oct. 25 and 26 and then also on Nov. 1, 2, 16, 22, 23 and 29, 2016.
The pharmacy is also doing a flu clinic in student residences on Nov. 30.
The College of Nursing will be running a large flu clinic in MPR of UMSU University Centre from Nov. 1 to 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.